Vintage Pulp May 6 2023
A HELL OF A PLACE
The weather is warm but the amenities leave a lot to be desired.


This is a great poster for a forgotten b-movie, proving yet again that even the most minor productions often had unbeatable promo art. Hell's Island premiered today in 1955 and starred John Payne, Mary Murphy, and Francis L. Sullivan. Payne plays a casino bouncer who's promised $5,000 to fly to the fictional Caribbean island of Puerto Rosario to locate a valuable ruby. Unfortunately, his employer has selected him because one of the thieves might be amenable to Payne's persuasion—namely his ex-girlfriend Mary Murphy. Naturally, once he arrives in Puerto Rosario he gets romantically tangled up with her again. She's married, which is a bit disloyal, but her husband is unjustly imprisoned on a nearby island. She still believes in that “for worse” thing enough to ask Payne to rescue her spouse, so he tries to make a deal: the husband for the ruby. But Murphy claims to know nothing about the gem. Is she lying? Have another look at the poster. Does that look like an honest person to you?

To get to the heart of the matter, Hell's Island is one of those mid-budget thrillers meant to feature fast paced, hard boiled dialogue, but which is saddled with unintentional laugh lines thanks to an inferior script. For example, at one point Payne lays in agony on an operating table awaiting surgery, and asks the doctor, “Can I have a cigarette?” The doctor's response? A shrug and, “Why not?” We don't think doctors—who saw a lot of tar-filled lungs up close in surgery—were cavalier about smoking, even back then. Here's another funny line: “About an hour ago he takes his fighting cock and goes away.” There are many more. But what we can say in film's favor is that it improves once it stops trying to be sly. The latter half speeds toward a climax that's just good enough to save the movie from the avoid bin. It's unusual to encounter a film that's part unintentionally comic ineptness, and part competent adventure, but that's what you get here. Proceed accordingly.
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Femmes Fatales Mar 16 2012
ACCESSORY BEFORE THE FACT
Oh this? It hasn't caught on yet, but one day everyone will carry one, believe me.

Mary Murphy, not to be confused with her many famous namesakes, was an American actress best known for co-starring with Marlon Brando in The Wild One. She played a virginal small-town girl, yin to Brando’s vagabond rebel yang. And what a pair they made. In this photo Murphy has a more mature yet still innocent look, gun accessorized. It was made for the 1955 thriller Hell's Island. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 02
1933—King Kong Opens
The first version of King Kong, starring Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, and with the giant ape Kong brought to life with stop-action photography, opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film goes on to play worldwide to good reviews and huge crowds, and spawns numerous sequels and reworkings over the next eighty years.
1949—James Gallagher Completes Round-the-World Flight
Captain James Gallagher and a crew of fourteen land their B-50 Superfortress named Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, thus completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight. The entire trip from takeoff to touchdown took ninety-four hours and one minute.
1953—Oscars Are Shown on Television
The 26th Academy Awards are broadcast on television by NBC, the first time the awards have been shown on television. Audiences watch live as From Here to Eternity wins for Best Picture, and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn earn statues in the best acting categories for Stalag 17 and Roman Holiday.
March 01
1912—First Parachute Jump Takes Place
Albert Berry jumps from a biplane traveling at 1,500 feet and lands by parachute at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The 36 foot diameter chute was contained in a metal canister attached to the underside of the plane, and when Berry dropped from the plane his weight pulled the canopy from the canister. Rather than being secured into the chute by a harness, Berry was seated on a trapeze bar. It's possible he was only the second man to accomplish a parachute landing, as there are some accounts of someone accomplishing the feat in California several months earlier.
1932—Lindbergh Baby Is Kidnapped
The twenty-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, is kidnapped from the family home in East Amwell, New Jersey. Over two months later the toddler's body is discovered in woods a short distance from the home. A medical examination determines that he had died of a massive skull fracture. A German carpenter named Bruno Hauptmann is arrested, tried, and convicted for the crime. He is sentenced to death and executed in April 1936.
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